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How to Get the Best Coffee with A French Press?

Oct 1

In my humble opinion, the humble French press is one of the best places to get great coffee without having to spend a lot. The French press is perhaps the most underrated coffee maker in the coffee world.

You cannot get an espresso as many self-proclaimed coffee experts advertise, from a press pot. However, the French press is a great choice if you want to find the perfect balance between coffee taste and price.

We asked professional baristas and coffee experts to share their insights on how to make the best out of the humble French press, and what could be the possible problems for the novice home barista.

How Much Do I Spend on Equipment?

Firstly, “There are hundreds of French press models available, making it difficult to find the right one,” says Dorian Bodnariuc a former barista who write for the website French Press Coffee. “It is easy to fall into the trap of buying a cheap press pot, and think it is the same as a more expensive one.

You may end up buying another brewer. The beaker glass is extremely thin, on cheaper devices, and can crack or break very quickly. The mesh filter will also warp the coffee, or even not filter it. It will make your overall experience poor.

“Buy right, or buy twice”, reminds us Dorian Bodnariuc.  

Although I don't recommend spending a lot on a French press, if you buy a more expensive model, you will get a coffee maker that will last for many years and produce great coffee all through its life.

Does French Press Coffee Taste Good?

Yes! This is a subjective opinion, and everyone has different tastes. However, French press coffee can be incredible.

French press coffee has a bad reputation in general, particularly in the UK. This is due to user error.

These errors can be corrected so you can enjoy all the benefits of brewing coffee with a French press, without having to endure the downsides of brewing with a French press.

French press is an immersion method that extracts the most oils from the beans without filtering them.

This results in a stronger coffee. The oils add flavor to the coffee.

If you prefer a strong, full-bodied coffee, or if you find filter coffee to be too watery, you will love French press coffee.

Some people dislike the taste of French press coffee. They find it too heavy. If this is you, an electric or manual filter coffee machine might be for you.

What are the user errors that I am referring to?

Grease size is a factor that has led to the decline of French press over the past several decades.

It was believed that the grind size for French press should have been very coarse.

The most serious error is likely to be buying low-quality coffee.

People would purchase a French press, then buy pre-ground coffee bags, and they'd expect a better tasting coffee than what they can get from a jar.

You can improve the cup quality by simply using better coffee beans. This will make coffee that you brew using your French press, or another brewing method, tastes amazing.

The stock market prices commodity coffee just like other commodities and it is all a matter of how much. It doesn't consider quality, but large sacks are priced according to weight.

To produce better quality coffee, it takes investment as well as slower and more expensive methods. So why would any farmer try to reduce their (sometimes negligible) profits by increasing the quality of their coffee to sell as a commodity?

Coffee farmers who grow high-quality coffee have a goal of having their coffee score high enough to be officially classified as specialty coffee. This allows them to sell their coffee to specialty roasters and importers at higher prices.

Farmers have something to lose by striving for the highest cup quality. Every decision is made with cup-quality in mind.


Another error in brewing fresh coffee using a French press boils down to the recipe and method.

This refers to the ratio of coffee to water (brewing rate) and other brewing factors, such as brew time, grind size, and water temperature.

We asked ex-world Barista Champ James Hoffman what is his advice for home baristas when it comes to French press brewing.

James Hoffmann has a unique recipe, and this is what he says about his unique method: “You need a little bit of patience, and if you are in a hurry, this method won’t work.” He recommends grinding finer than all Internet tutorial say. Somewhere around drip grind size. He recommends starting between 60 and 70 grams per every 4 cups of water, (1 liter), and adjust it to your taste.

Matt Perger, two time world champion barista, and coffee roaster from Melbourne, Australia says that the brewing temperature is also something we can play with. “For immersion methods such as the French Press, we started to recommend lower temperatures than for pour-over coffee — perhaps just 94°C” says Matt Perger commenting on the “Ideal Temperature for French Press”. 94°C is about 201.2°F which is lower than the brewing temperature for drip coffee.

The perfect cup of coffee is just like paradise is in one's eye. Experimentation is the key to the joy of coffee, beyond its transporting effects in the morning. It's the ultimate test of trial and error. You can experiment with different grind sizes, coffee roasts, water temperatures, and brew methods until your perfect cup of coffee. Your taste buds will guide you to paradise.